Choosing A Wedding Venue | Courtney Carney Photo

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What To Consider When Choosing A Wedding Venue

Wedding Tips

July 14, 2021


A Photographer’s Perspective


Finding the venue for your wedding can be one of the most time-consuming parts of wedding planning. Besides finding a location that fits the style you’re going for, it also has to be able to hold all your guests, have availability for your date, and fit within your budget. And that’s just the high-level aspects! It doesn’t include things like having good options for food and beverage, room for a cocktail hour, or a dance floor that’s big enough. (All the things your guests truly appreciate for weddings!! You can read more about that here!)

You’ll find plenty of articles going over all the things to consider when choosing your wedding venue. There are so many great tips out there! I thought it would be fun though to share what you should be looking for from a photographer’s perspective! A venue not having all of these doesn’t instantly put it on the deal-breaker list. It just gives you a good idea of what to keep in mind as you continue planning your day, you want to make sure to account for these in other ways you might not have thought of!

1. Does the venue have a bridal suite with natural light?

I love venues that have a dedicated spot for couples to get ready. It makes the day easier because you’re not having to add extra travel time into your timeline to get from where you’re getting ready to the venue. Plus there’s always the chance someone is going to forget something important (like say, the marriage license! #truestory 😆). You want a room that’s big enough to comfortably fit your wedding party members as well as the vendors you’ll be bringing it to get ready. The detail most important for photos is that it has windows that let natural light into the room! I’ve worked at plenty of venues that have small rooms with no windows for the bridal party to get ready in. So to get that gorgeous light, I’ll move the bride, mom, and the bridesmaids outside for those photos so we’re getting those bright, clean photos of the bride getting ready!

The venue doesn’t have a room for you to get dressed in? Book yourself a spacious hotel room or an Airbnb to get ready! This can give the added bonus of your wedding party spending extra time together the night before the wedding. Also, don’t forget a spot for the groom! He deserves a great spot to hang out and get ready with the guys! I can’t tell you the number of closets I’ve been shown to put the groom and his groomsmen in because a venue didn’t have a spot for them! 😅

2. Do they have a backup plan for your ceremony?

Outdoor ceremonies are a big part of the vision so many couples have for their wedding day. Beautiful weather, a gorgeous backdrop, surrounded by the people you love most. While I love the more relaxed atmosphere of an outdoor ceremony, they definitely bring in some added stress when it comes to planning. Nothing bums me out quicker on a wedding day than showing up with rain in the forecast and everyone scrambling to find a spot to move the ceremony. It’s stress the bride and groom simply don’t need on their special day!! A way to help alleviate that stress is by asking what the venue’s backup plan is if it rains. And make sure they show it to you! Obviously, the hope is rain stays away and you can have the outdoor ceremony you’ve been dreaming of! But if you have to move indoors, you want to see the spot it’s going to be in is a match to your vision. It’s going to be in all of your photos, you have to love what it looks like too!

3. Does the venue have options for outdoors for portraits?

Now as a professional photographer, you can give me very little to work with when it comes to portraits and I can make it work! I’ve put my couples in some questionable locations but you’d never know it by the beautiful images we’ve captured. And while I have the confidence to make it work, it’s not the way we want to go for the relaxed, stress-free photos we all want for you! When touring for your venue, make sure there are grounds outdoor to give your photographer the chance to give you good variety in your photos. You don’t want to end up with just one spot that all your portraits have to be taken. I want to give you variety!

If you feel like the wedding venue doesn’t have an abundance of space outside for portraits, work with your photographer to scope out local parks, gardens, or downtown areas that may work. And don’t wait until the last minute! If you know you’ll need to go off property for your portraits, let your photographer know early so you can work the added travel into your timeline. This also gives them the chance to apply for any permits you might need for your portrait location. You don’t want to leave anything to figure out the day of!

4. Do they allow outside vendors?

Some venues have a required list of vendors they allow you to work with on their property. You don’t want to tour a venue and fall in love, only to not be able to work with your dream planner, florist, or photographer because the venue doesn’t let you bring in outside vendors. Do you cross those venues off your list? No! Just make sure you’re asking questions and doing your research into any required vendors to ensure they are a good fit for you.

I hope this post gave you some good ideas of the questions you should have when it comes to finding a wedding venue and getting amazing photos! It’s a big decision that can feel overwhelming, but having a good idea of what to look for if photos are a priority for you can help take the stress out of it!

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